A team made up of past and present deadeye shooters of the national team topped the women’s division of the 3×3 Hoopfest last Saturday at the Gillette Multi-Purpose Gymnasium in Gualo Rai.
Hotshots trampled 4Funsies’ twice-to-beat advantage in the championship round to rule the two-day tournament.
Irish Pagarao and Destiny Pangelinan waxed hot from rainbow country early and often to annex the 3×3 tiara in Game 2, 21-17.
Pagarao scored 9 points in the finals-clinching victory, while Pangelinan added 8 points. Frontliners Angel Roligat and Madeleine Alegre chipped in 3 and 2 points, respectively.
Miki Kautz was an offensive juggernaut on this one, leading all scorers with 12 markers, while Dianne Pablo and Gabrielle Race pitched in the rest of the 5 points.
In Game 1, Hotshots forced a winner-take-all second game following a 17-10 victory.
Pagarao shared the wealth in Game 1, as Roligat and Alegre led the Hotshots with 5 points apiece, while Pagarao and Pangelinan added 4 and 3 points, respectively.
Kautz had 5, Pablo 3, and Race 2 points in the Game 1 loss.
The most veteran of the Hotshots players, Pagarao, said it’s always a pleasure to support the Northern Marianas Islands Basketball Federation’s tournaments.
“We were all there to have fun and to support the NMIBF tournament. I’m always excited to play with younger players and my old teammates. I just love the sport and I make sure I can juggle and have time for both sports, which are soccer and basketball,” she said.
Roligat, for her part, said she just admired her team’s resilience especially after losing to 4Funsies in the semifinals.
“My team put up a great fight, which in the end led to victory. It was harder for us to win because we fell into the loser’s bracket on the second day which meant we had to play back-to-back games, but all in all, I’d say we needed that loss because it fueled us to become even hungrier to win the championship.”
She attributed Hotshots’ success to team chemistry and everyone having each other’s backs.
“We all played our game helping in any way each of us could and made sure to reach 21 points or get a lead before the time was out. But most of all it was a great tourney to get all the ladies back on their toes in preparation for the upcoming national tryouts,” said the Marianas High School Lady Dolphins forward.
Pagarao, for her part, said the halfcourt format of the tournament is actually harder than playing full court.
“I think 3×3 is more hard because it has more space to play and you gotta be more aggressive to attack and I feel like you would always have to rush because it’s just seconds. You need endurance when you play 3×3, while with 5×5 you have so much time and you need to be more aware of what’s going on since it’s always compact inside and you can always take your time to reset the play and more tactics,” she said.
4Funsies started its campaign in the 3×3 Hoopfest with a 7-5 win over Lady Aces. They then overcame Bae-Ballerz, 12-10, to advance to the semifinals.
Hotshots defeated Jammerz, 16-8, in its first game before losing to 4Funsies in the semis, 14-9. Fortunately, Hotshots got to live another day after taking down Bae-Ballerz in the loser’s bracket finals, 15-11, to get another crack against the erstwhile undefeated 4Funsies.